|Website: http://www.nlfurniture.org/Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=47735280973&v=wall
Leadership: Holly Young, Executive Director
Summary: A furniture bank operates very much like a food bank, but we provide gently used furniture instead of food. We serve folks coming out of shelters who have overcome homelessness or fled an abusive situation. The families we serve often move into their housing with only the items they were able to carry during their difficult period.Your furniture and financial donations give hope, a home, and love to those starting over for a new life. We turn empty houses into homes, with dignity and compassion.
Gramazin is determined to gather 10,000 inspirational stories. We are determined that we will travel throughout the US, volunteering in local charities, to celebrate those stories. We will raise the funding to visit each of the 70+ charities who has invited us to draw attention to the great work they do.
However, during this season when a lack of funding remains an obstacle for our national journey, the continuous enthusiasm for our visit expressed by the folks at New Life Furniture of Cincinnati, Ohio really caught our attention. We simply had to find a way to make this trip work for them. We are so thankful to God that we drove eight hours to Cincinnati on July 1, 2013 to meet the wonderful team at New Life Furniture.
Truthfully, the success of New Life Furniture flows from Holly Young, the Executive Director. She is a woman of deep faith, profound courage, genuine warmth and compassion, and a healthy obsession to detail. The woman is a walking ambassador to what it means to love others and treat them with dignity, regardless of their circumstance.
Chad and I were blessed being the recipients of her kindness. However, we also watched her practice her values as she engaged a woman in conversation who was begging for money in downtown Cincinnati. From that encounter, we learned of the woman’s hope for a job that she has applied for. The woman wants to be gainfully employed, a contributing member of society. She just needed some compassion. It was Holly who discovered the woman’s story because Holly is obedient to the command of Jesus Christ, to love others as you would like to be loved.
There is no doubt that Holly will ask me to edit this section. Her humility is evident. To tell the truth, proud and overbearing people rarely are willing to make the sacrifices needed to launch a furniture ministry from their garage and build it to the point where it has served over 1,000 people in Greater Cincinnati. Love is the engine that makes New Life Furniture effective and that love comes from Holly’s deep faith. Sorry, Holly! We are leaving this in here. It is a testimony to the message of love and compassion, taught over 2,000 years ago, that remains true for our culture today.
The Drive to Cincinnati
When the alarm rang early Monday morning, heavy rain could be heard outside. I took a look out the window and it was nearly a white-out of rain.
“Seriously? Really? We are supposed to drive today to Cincinnati, over 500 miles away, in this weather?”
However, a commitment is a commitment. God would see us through. Chad and I got ready and ran to the car, our clothes drenched before the day even started.
About a half hour down the Pennsyvlania Turnpike, the rain eased up. Eventually, we could turn off the windshield wipers. Now, the only pounding the car was taking was the bass of the ambient and worship music Chad was playing for us to pass the miles away.
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Arrival at New Life Furniture in Blue Ash, OH, a suburb of Cincinnati
The skies looked ominous as we approached the outskirts of Cincinnati. We drove into another heavy rain storm, forcing us to drive the last 5-10 miles of the trip slowly. Chad and I ran into the New Life Furniture office as quickly as we could to try to stay dry.
The area inside the office was colorful and warm. There was something really classy about the furnishing and decorations of the office. The green and blue signage looked like the work of a high-end marketing company. However, it was the work of students from Public Allies of Cincinnati. These students should be proud of the work they did for New Life Furniture. It is my understanding they also designed the signage on the truck! Gramazin!
Holly Young met us for the very first time, effectively making Chad and I feel like we have known her for 20 years! We received warm hugs! Within minutes, she had become a good friend, an indicator that she is in the right line of work. Her clients are in good hands! She gave us a tour of the office and warehouse. We sat and talked about Gramazin, New Life Furniture, and our personal lives. We learned that Holly had jumped out of an airplane with her instructor at 12,000 feet just the day before. That is a kind of courage I simply do not have.
Holly and I clearly share perspectives on serving others. We are blessed by her desire to help Gramazin make connections all over Cincinnati in our effort to gather inspirational stories.
Mike Lee and Anthony Clark, an aspiring baseball player, arrived back at the office after a day of delivering and picking up furniture. Mike is the kind of guy that just leaves a wonderful impression on you. He is one of those people who smile when they aren’t laughing. He loves his job bringing hope to the down-and-out in the Cincinnati area. I got the sense that he knows the mechanics of what he is doing very well and does it truly to serve others at the same time. Before leaving for the day, Mike showed us his remote-controlled helicopter, flying it around the warehouse with precision.
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Dinner at the Fireside Grill with Daria Branham
We followed Holly to the Firehouse Grill. We enjoyed a delicious meal and pleasant conversation. Daria Branham joined us a little later. Daria, who now does the marketing for New Life Furniture, met Holly through her work with Public Allies. It was Daria who coordinated Gramazin’s visit to Cincinnati with the local media. She struck me as not only a kind person but also very knowledgeable. She knows the city and suburbs of Cincinnati very well. She is a wonderful asset to the organization.
The Firehouse Grill on Lake Forest Drive.
A Night Spent at The Kenwood by Senior Star
Nancy Grant is a fan of the work of Holly Young and New Life Furniture. She is also the Move-In Coordinator for The Kenwood by Senior Star, a premier and recently opened retirement community in Cincinnati. Nancy has the responsibility of helping residents transition from their previous homes to their new luxorious suites at Kenwood. Nancy heard that Chad and I were coming to visit New Life Furniture. She offered for us to stay one night at The Kenwood.
We arrived at The Kenwood just before dusk. It is a beautiful facility high on a hill. The receptionist was very friendly and was expecting us. Chad and I were greeted by a very nice welcome message on the main table in the foyer. When we arrived in our room on the 10th floor, we saw a very nice greeting card and some delicious treats waiting for us. It is not surprising that Nancy and Holly are affiliated, as they both excel at attention to detail. If Nancy makes Chad and I feel so welcomed, imagine what she can do for your elderly loved one who needs a retirement community in the Cincinnati area.
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Day Two – Delivering Furniture for New Life Furniture
Chad and I enjoyed a delicious breakfast at The Kenwood with Nancy Glass. The servers were friendly and attentive. Nancy spoke with us about The Kenwood, New Life Furniture, and Gramazin. Nancy shared with us how The Kenwood works hard to make sure transitions to retirement community living is as easy as possible for senior citizens.
After saying goodbye to Nancy and packing up the car, Chad and I returned to New Life Furniture. Mike Lee was already loading the truck, along with Xavier Ray. Holly, wearing a bright green New Life Furniture shirt, directed us to the warehouse. We helped carry furniture to the truck. Mike followed a well-planned checklist, knowing exactly what items of furniture each client needed. This organization is, well, organized! Mike loaded the truck carefully, knowing which stop was first and which stop was last on the itinerary.
After Daria arrived, we split into two vehicles. Holly drove her van with Chad, Daria, and I. Xavier joined Mike in the truck. We stopped briefly at a convenience store where I changed places with Xavier, riding in the truck. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Mike – about his experiences with New Life and his own personal story. He is very delightful to talk with.
We picked up some items from a resident in Milford, OH. She was getting rid of a carpet and a mattress. I know she donated a few more things as well. She was moving into a retirement home after the sudden loss of her son. She offered to give us more furniture but there simply wasn’t room in the truck. I watched Mike and Holly do what they do so well – making the woman feel very appreciated for her donations.
We got back into the vehicles and drove to another location, this time near center city Cincinnati. It was strange, however, that we first drove into Kentucky and then back into Ohio to actually make the trip shorter. I didn’t realize Cincinnati is adjacent to the state of Kentucky. I need to study my maps better!
We arrived at the second destination and discovered the Fox 19 TV cameraman was waiting for us. Good job Daria arranging the media connection! The cameraman taped the furniture being removed from the truck and taken into the home of Henry and Jasmine. I was interviewed, affording me the opportunity to share my story about Gramazin. However, what was far more important was that Holly was interviewed and people all over the city got to learn about the New Life Furniture ministry! The video aired on the 6:30 newscast that evening.
Chad hopped into the truck with Mike and I rode in the van with Holly, Daria, and Xavier. We arrived at this huge building that clearly was built in the earlier part of the 20th century, perhaps even back into the 19th century. Quite frankly, it reminded me of some of the haunted hotels that have been locations for Ghost Adventures, a show I watch frequently for reasons I cannot explain if you ask me. However, this building is occupied by people who have battled various adversities in their lives. Of course New Life Furniture would have clients here – such are the kinds of people their compassionate hearts beat for.
Len Evans was the recipient of furniture. Len explained how he has had a long battle with alcoholism but he has been sober for three years. Good for you Len! Yeah! That is inspirational! Len gave me his phone number and I will call him to get more of his story for publishing on Gramazin.
Len’s apartment was on the third floor of this huge building. By the way, did I tell you it was a big building? We had to carry the furniture down a very long hallway, turn left into a foyer area with an elevator. Moving furniture with an elevator is no easy task, not when the residents of the facility, including people with wheel chairs and walkers, are also using the elevators at the same time. After getting off the elevator, we had to carry the furniture through a door, around a huge room that is essentially a multi-story stair well that seemed very similar to the last scene of The Bourne Identity, when Jason Bourne falls many floors depending upon the body of the deadman he is falling with to cushion his fall. We then had to walk through a narrow door, make a sharp turn down a few stairs, hang a left, and then another left that finally led to Len’s apartment.
Uh, why the detail? I want the reader to appreciate what Mike, Holly, and Xavier do to serve people in need. It is not easy. It is hard work with many challenges. Furniture is bulky and heavy and clients aren’t living in first floor apartments, with wide doors and straight hallways, off the exit ramps of major highways. However, I didn’t hear one complaint! Not one! It was truly a pleasure for all of us to serve someone special like Len!
Holly asked Len if she could pray for him. She asked us to all hold hands and she led us in prayer for Len, asking God’s blessings on his life and on the furniture he received that was donated by others in love. It was a moving experience!
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The Trip to Cincinnati Sponsored By
ChromaGen Vision and Their Solution for Dyslexia and Color Blindness
A Memorable Day on the Golf Course With Winning Golf TV
Time to Relax and Enjoy Downtown Cincinnati
At this point, we said our goodbyes to Mike and Xavier. They had more deliveries and pickups. Holly wanted to take Chad and I on a tour of downtown Cincinnati. We were accompanied by Daria.
On the way to our destination, Fountain Square, Holly pointed our various murals on the sides of buildings that have been painted by youth in the city. Very impressive! We also drove past the Great American Ballpark and Paul Brown Stadium, homes of the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals respectively.
After emerging from the underground parking garage, we walked around Fountain Square. It was at this location that Holly showed her compassion to the homeless woman, already mentioned above. We visited the visitor’s center and had a delightful conversation about Gramazin with the volunteers.
We had a delicious lunch at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop. The staff seemed to take great care to make sure the sandwiches were made exactly as we wanted them to be. We then walked next door to enjoy ice cream at Graeter’s. The place was busy as the ice cream is famous.
Holly drove us back to New Life Furniture where we were met by Xavier and Mike who had just returned from their deliveries. It was time for Chad and I to say goodbye and we took group photos together. Chad and I both drove to our hotel feeling a little disappointed. We felt like we just met wonderful friends and now we would be saying goodbye to them so soon. We hope to return to Cincinnati again and enjoy the folks from New Life Furniture.
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A Gramazingly Unexpected Treat for Chad and I in Cincinnati Tuesday Evening!
We arrived at our hotel about 20 minutes after leaving New Life Furniture. It was around 4 pm. Chad and I decided we really wanted to attend the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants baseball game in Cincinnati at 7 pm. Around 5 pm, we headed down a very congested Rt. 75 into the city, arriving around 6 pm. The indoor/outdoor parking was very convenient at the stadium. We were impressed by the stores and restaurants just outside the Great American Ballpark that did give a feeling of life outside an inner city ballpark in the 1920s. Apparently the stores were built where Riverfront Stadium used to be located.
We bought our tickets and then walked down to the Ohio River, to enjoy the scenery for a few minutes. There were many couples rocking back and forth on swinging benches. We watched a young boy enjoy getting soaking wet running in the fountains, while his parents watched.
We entered the stadium and found the section we were to sit in. The sun was hot in the seats we were assigned. We found shaded seats at the top of the stadium and stayed there the rest of the ball game. The stadium is very nice. I’m not so sure I would say it is better than Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia. However, having a river just beyond the stadium with boats and steamships to watch gives the Great American Ballpark a slight advantage over Citizen’s Bank.
Chad and I had no interest in the outcome of the game, given we are Philadelphia Phillies fans. However, that also made the game a bit more relaxing. We didn’t care what happened on the field. Around the top of the 6th, I noticed that the Cincinnati pitcher had not yet had a hit against him.
“Hey, Chad, the pitcher has a no-hitter so far. Actually, I think it’s a perfect game.”
It was said without much interest. The odds of Chad and I actually attending a no-hitter at a ballpark we have never been to before 500+ miles from our home seemed ludicrous to believe. I fully expected a hit. The pitcher did walk a batter, ending the perfect game bid. Surely a hit would soon end the hope of a no-hitter.
By the 7th inning you could begin to tell there was a buzz in the stadium. By the 8th inning, eveyone knew that history was in the making. The game took on a championship game feel. Each strike and each foul ball by a Giant’s batter got the roar of the crowd. Suddenly, Chad and I had become Cincinnati Reds fans. We wanted so much to experience the no-hitter, just like the 29,000+ people wearing red in the stadium.
It happened! It actually happened! Homer Bailey threw a no-hitter, the first in major league baseball in 2013, on the night Chad and I were at the game visiting from out of town. It was like the icing on the cake, making our visit to Cincinnati truly amazing! Chad and I both agreed – at this point, the Cincinnati Reds are our second favorite team in baseball.
Chad and I hung around the stadium, both inside and outside after the game. I must admit – the Cincinnati police did a great job with helping the traffic exit the parking lots. Speaking of Cincinnati police, I asked a friendly Cincinnati police officer questions about how to get out of town. I struck up a conversation with him about Gramazin. He told me he has a story to share, a story about surviving a heart attack two years ago. It just was like the perfect ending to a wonderful day! Chad and I drove back to the hotel and collapsed in bed.
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Photo Gallery 7 – Return trip to Pennsylvania